Itch to scratch: Montana Missouri river in October for trout spey - guide & equipment questions


Active Member
So next month, instead of planning on a PNW steelhead trip that I normally go, I decided to go to Montana for some trout, walleye & whitefish fishing on the big Mo'. After watching this video from Redington, I knew I had to go:

Gig Harbor Flyshop is offering a group trip about the same time I was planning on:
Has anyone taken a trip with this WA outfit ??

Basically, for my DIY I wanted to:
Fly into Helena then renting a car to Craig / Wolf Creek / Cascade area.
Found great low priced lodging (end of summer season shoulder rate) in Wolf Creek.
Got all my PNW steelhead outfit ready for the colder weather so that's good to use in MT October !

Anyone who has fished the Missouri can you chime in on:

  • Guide who will fish with 2 handed anglers (trout spey) ?
  • Wade in spots - there are lots on the map from Holter dam to Cascade - but any favorites come to mind for swinging streamers or soft hackles ?
  • Fishing license - do I have to wait for it in the mail or is electronic like UT? If so, I'd rather get it at a MT fly shop and pick up when I get there?
  • Would a 4wt spey and 5wt switch rod with various shooting heads be good or do I need to bring my 7wt steelie rod??
  • Any other suggestions for fishing the big Mo'?
Last edited:


Active Member
Headhunters fly shop is a great little shop and they will be able to answer most of your questions. The river is at 4,200 cfs right now, I don't know what that's like historically but I see a little upward "blip" on flows. Lots of wading access and the bottom is easy on you.

You can register with MF&G and get your license today, print it out and stick it in your pocket.

If your accommodation includes a kitchen you might think about pre-cooking and freezing some foods. Restaurants are scarce in Craig - and the stand in line and wait place is expensive. Groceries in Craig? Nope.

I only fished my 590 one handers; no experience with spey/switch. Deer everywhere, watch out when you're driving. Cell service generally not good but there's a pull out on the right bank about a mile up river from Craig - you can get good coverage.

Call me J! Have fun and we will expect a fishing report.

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
You also need that special pass to fish. It's called the AIS Prevention Pass. It costs 15 bucks to non residents. You can read up about it in Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Web Site.

If I was half way smart I could of moved it to this page, But I'm not.


Active Member
I would just buy the license at whatever trout shop you stop in first when you get to Craig.

Wind will almost certainly be a factor, so I would bring the 7 weight spey. Last time I was there I used a Sage 5126 and it did fine, but a 7 will be more useful if the wind starts howling. I would also bring a 5 or 6 weight single-hand rod for nymphing, big meat streamers, or if you go out on a boat.

As for spots to fish - go find them. That really is part of the adventure. The trout shops and people here online aren't going to give up the cherry spots anyway. Go explore, pay attention, and you will be rewarded.


Gnu to the board
Getting a license in Craig is easy. If you prefer online, do that.

I'd recommend the 4/5 wt rods. You'll use the 5wt most of the time but you need a backup. Wind could be a factor but if it's so windy I need a 7 to punch through, I'm probably calling it a day. YMMV.

You will probably want a sink tip or two (Versileader). You can buy them in Craig for about 15 bucks each.

Call one of the shops for a guide. Also, for wading access stop in the shops. They'll get you started.


Active Member
Thanks all for the invaluable information!

I found Gig Harbor Fly shop in WA has a few spots on their group trip left so I am going with them!

Will report back on the fishing....


Active Member
I lived in Cascade for 6 years, 1 year in Great Falls, and 4 years in Boulder, Montana and left in 1991 for NW WA. In October you will find yourself fishing either small stuff (like BWO, midges, micro caddis), or large streamers, bucktails, sculpins, etc. I use to fish a 9' 4 wt for the small stuff and a 10' 8 wt for the large stuff. One rod doesn't really work that well in October due to this need to fish either very small or rather large.

You will want to use sink tips with the streamer, bucktail, sculpin imitation. Mouths of tributaries or around islands are good places to fish the big stuff for big browns. I'd even take a trip upstream to fish the mouth of Beaver Creek, which is between Hauser and Holter Dams and fish with large sculpins or other baitfish imitations. It would be about an hours drive around to it from Craig.

There is always the chance in October of hooking into a brown that is over 5lbs and they do go up to 20lbs in the Missouri (although there aren't many of the really big boys, they are there). Don't remember, it can be very cold in October, or it can be warm. Temps can range from below zero to in the low 70's. Usually you will find temps in the 50's, but because of elevation (Craig sits at about 4200'), it can get cold and snow any given time.

Personally, if I went to the Missouri between Wolf Creek and Cascade in October, I'd fish large baitfish or sculpin imitations instead of fishing for the Arlee Strain rainbows with the small stuff.


Active Member
Personally, if I went to the Missouri between Wolf Creek and Cascade in October, I'd fish large baitfish or sculpin imitations instead of fishing for the Arlee Strain rainbows with the small stuff.

Appreciate your experience and suggestions to fishing the Missouri - you seem to be the type of angler I am...

Yes, I agree and don't want to fish the small nymphs and midges for rainbows - I can get that in my state...

I will definitely seek out brown trout I have become accustomed to fishing Utah's Weber rivers.

Since I am using trout spey rods as well as my summer steelie 2 hander in case the winds start to howl.
I have heard the Kreelex fly to be the winning choice on the Mo' ?


UPDATE: There is one (1) spot left for the Missouri River in October with Gig Harbor fly shop!!!


Active Member
Personally, I'd fish large sculpin imitations like the Troth Sculpin, large Zonkers (Brown/gold body, olive/ gold body, black/pearl body, black/silver body), or Black, Brown, Olive, Cottontail Bunny Leaches on #1-#4 long shank hooks over things with a lot of flash materials. Those big Browns are used to eating sculpins and large forage fish, that is how they got to be big fish in the first place. I'd use a type 3 or type 6 sink tip on a Versa Tip type line, an 8 or 9 wt single-hand, or a 6 or 7 wt Switch rod. Cast slightly upstream, mend, let it sink, and when it comes under tension give it action by moving the rod tip smartly up 4-6" and let the tip quickly back down until the cast is fished out.

Support WFF | Remove the Ads

Support WFF by upgrading your account. Site supporters benefits include no ads and access to some additional features, few now, more in the works. Info

Latest posts